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Open Access Different Effects of FK506, Rapamycin, and Mycophenolate Mofetil on Glucose-Stimulated Insulin Release and Apoptosis in Human Islets

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Pancreatic islet transplantation has the potential to be an effective treatment for type 1 diabetes mellitus. While recent improvements have improved 1-year outcomes, follow-up studies show a persistent loss of graft function/survival over 5 years. One possible cause of islet transplant failure is the immunosuppressant regimen required to prevent alloimmune graft rejection. Although there is evidence from separate studies, mostly in rodents and cell lines, that FK506 (tacrolimus), rapamycin (sirolimus), and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF; CellCept) can damage pancreatic -cells, there have been few side-by-side, multiparameter comparisons of the effects of these drugs on human islets. In the present study, we show that 24-h exposure to FK506 or MMF impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in human islets. FK506 had acute and direct effects on insulin exocytosis, whereas MMF did not. FK506, but not MMF, impaired human islet graft function in diabetic NOD.scid mice. All of the immunosuppressants tested in vitro increased caspase-3 cleavage and caspase-3 activity, whereas MMF induced ER-stress to the greatest degree. Treating human islets with the GLP-1 agonist exenatide ameliorated the immunosuppressant-induced defects in glucose-stimulated insulin release. Together, our results demonstrate that immunosuppressants impair human -cell function and survival, and that these defects can be circumvented to a certain extent with exenatide treatment.

Keywords: Diabetes; FK506; Islet transplantation; Mycophenolate mofetil; Rapamycin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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